“Ghost of a Chance”
Writer: Justin Peniston
Artist(s): Andy Kuhn, Guy Major (c), Pat Brosseau (l), Rafael Albuquerque (cover)
Publisher: DC Comics
Exclamation: ‘The Spectre’s Hit-List’ is something you really truly never want to be on!
Explanation: As shown by the cover, this issue of Blue Beetle has the other side of God’s vengeance making a pit-stop in El Paso. After Eclipso, it is the turn of the not-at-all-friendly neighborhood Spectre to flex his godly muscles. As expected (as with anything involving the jolly green spirit) the team-up isn’t very high on team-spirit. Not only do Blue Boy and Green Man go at each other, twice, they part ways with the Spectre issuing a rather ominous warning to Jaime.
There is also a subplot involving Jaime’s chancing upon and later confronting, Luis, the man responsible for his father’s crippling shooting.
Traci 13 also makes another appearance, this one longer than the previous.
Examination: Not only do we have a guest artist (again), Blue Beetle #21 also comes with a guest writer. While the second one is acceptable enough it is the first that left me scratching my head (and not in a good way). The Spectre’s guest appearance here isn’t any different from any generic one at any generic place at any generic time.
The Spectre, like Eclipso, doesn’t give the writer all that wide a berth to work with. After all, there are only so many ways to tell the story of a guy killing sub-gamma-yamma-lamma-Z-level bad guys. More often than not the meat of the story isn’t about the Spectre but about his mark. Unfortunately, this story misses the mark (no pun intended) on that. Still, were that the only aspect lacking things would still be better than how they are here. Other than learning very little about the bad guys that the Spectre kills, I was left wondering as to what this story has that is anything remotely worth remembering. As with his victims the Spectre (both spirit and host) comes across more as a cipher than as an actual character. I could carry on by drawing comparisons between the Spectre’s presence here and Eclipso’s from a few months’ back but that would serve no other purpose than to further pummel an already weak, tired, beaten-down plotline.
However, not all is bad and lost. Even if Jaime’s final confrontation with Luis isn’t anything to write home about, the journey of him getting there is (a little). Although a bit wordy for Jaime’s father the interaction and dynamic between the father and son gets points from me. Ditto for Paco and Traci 13.
Visually Blue Beetle #21 stays close to the look of the series, both in character design and ambience. Artist Andy Kuhn’s take, although a bit crispier than Rafael Albuquerque’s rough-around-the-edges style is close enough so as to not jar the reader’s (especially yours’ truly) BeeB mindset. As always, a thankful nod to colorist Guy Major without whose invaluable contribution this Blue Beetle wouldn’t be who he is to the readers, at least not visually.
Proclamation: For John Rogers, ‘Don’t make me get the Spectre on your case for your torturing of your fans (by your absence)’. Get back to Blue Beetle.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at http://www.xcave.net
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